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Evaluation

As a pastor, I hated the idea of evaluation. It sounded too much like a way to open myself up to needless criticism. After all, who really wants to invite an outsider to tell them what they are doing wrong, add more “to do’s” to their list, or make them feel guilty for what they are not doing? Pastoring is hard enough already. Why invite more frustration?

But what if I were to tell you that evaluation can be a positive experience? Don’t misunderstand. “Positive” does not always translate into “easy.” However, evaluation can be positive in the sense that it can clarify issues, reveal potential, and renew hope.

If you were to overhear a discussion from biblical church evaluation, you might here phrases such as:

  • “This church works hard and endures a lot to keep going, but in the process has lost their passion for people.”
  • “This church has stayed true to doctrinal teaching, yet they are allowing their people to trip over stumbling block
  • “This church looks busy on the outside, but they are dying on the inside.”
  • “This church is apathetic and needs to decide if they are going to be serious about ministry or not.”

You…

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First Impressions Matter_ 5 Areas to

Have you ever sold a home? Do you remember the realtor walking through your house? I’m guessing your to-do list started growing. New furniture arrangements, touch-up painting, de-cluttering, and extremely detailed cleaning. That’s what I’ve been working on lately and it’s exhausting! My home is in great shape but I’ve lived here for eight years and stopped noticing the little scuff marks on the walls ages ago. I didn’t care that the extra sofa in my living room made it look a bit small or that my kitchen island doubled as a mailroom.

I’ve had to put myself in the shoes of potential buyers and look at my home with fresh eyes. As a result, I’ve wiped down doors, touched up paint, removed some clutter, and did some spring cleaning before spring even arrived.

Our church buildings can feel the same way as our homes. We get comfortable and familiar with our surroundings. Before you know it, you can’t see the little hand prints in the toddlers’ room or the chipped tiles in the foyer. Maybe there are a few more cracks in the sidewalk than last year or…

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PeriscopeIt’s only been eleven days since I heard about Periscope from one of Auxano’s newest navigators, Chris Rivers. We were doing a leadership training event at Elmbrook Church with 500 leaders discussing their new mission and values. In seconds,  Chris started live streaming the event and over 40 people joined in. Since then, I have broadcast 11 live events, averaging one per day. Yesterday, anyone could have watched 15 minutes of Auxano’s virtual team training. Last night anyone could have chatted with me about book writing, while I hosted a 15 minutes Q&A at 11 o’clock at night trying to stay awake for another few hours. (I have 14 days left to finish God Dreams, my fourth book.)

What is Periscope? It’a an insanely simple, live streaming tool that connects with your twitter account. (Twitter bought it for $100 million.) Whatever you live stream, people can comment on, and “heart” showing realtime interaction and engagement. Best of all, it archives your live streaming event for 24 hours so that you followers can watch later if they weren’t available.   Read more at Wired or TechCrunch.

So why…

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When a first-time guest completes a guest registration card at your church, what happens next? The most common answer to that question: absolutely nothing. No, it’s not an intentional oversight, but without an ongoing, immediate follow-up plan, your church may miss the opportunity to reach guests for Christ and include them in your church family.

Need fresh ideas? Tweak some of these to fit your unique church:

  • First-Time-Guest Online Survey. People love to give an opinion! Create a brief survey on your church website. (See a sample survey at dianadavis.org) Carefully study survey responses.
  • Same Day Contact. A specially trained volunteer can make a brief phone call to each guest on the Sunday afternoon they visit your church.
  • Email + Snail Mail. Assign volunteers to send a swift, personal email or handwritten card to each first-time guest.
  • Small Group Personal Invitation. Provide contact info to an appropriate small group or Sunday School class for each family member. A member of that small group may offer to meet the guest at a specific door to escort them to class.
  • A Personal Touch. Examples: An Indiana church…

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TeamsThatThriveHealthy conflict is the catalyst of extraordinary performance. If your church leadership team never has conflict, then something is wrong. Effective teams welcome healthy conflict – and they manage it in such a way that it actually aids the team.

Numerous studies overwhelmingly suggest that task conflict is good, whereas affective, or relationship, conflict is bad. In other words, team members should challenge each other’s ideas, interrogate one another’s beliefs and values, and willingly offer different perspectives while refraining from attacking others in the process, or making snide, sarcastic comments in the process.

Based on our recent study of nearly 150 church leadership teams, we encourage you to cultivate the kind of conflict that fuels great team performances. We found that thriving teams engaged in challenging dialogue. They also cultivated (rather than squashed) healthy conflict significantly more than under-performing teams.

To spur healthy “task conflict” on your team, we suggest that you and your teammates:

  1. Vigorously solicit critiques of plans, decisions and assumptions guiding decision making.
  2. Model respectful, assertive, thoughtful and honest critiques of ministry ideas and plans, and invite others to do the same of your own ideas and plans.
  3. Celebrate group members who say the…

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EXPEDITIONTechnology can either hurt your message (by being outdated and irrelevant) or can support ministry (by being up-to-date and used wisely).  People in your community will find your church, and get their first impression of you, based on your church website.  Your congregation will stay connected with their small groups via social media and will sign up for church events through your church management software.  This ever-evolving use of technology for ministry requires regular maintenance and continuous education.  Thankfully, staying up-to-date doesn’t have to be terribly complicated.

Here are several tips to consider as your leverage technology for ministry:

#1: Store electronic documents on a network or cloud account

Saving church documents onto personal (or even work) computers can lead to significant issues. What happens when an employee who was using a personal laptop for work leaves their job? Would all the documents, records, and template they’d created be lost to your church? What if a hard drive crashes or a computer is stolen? All of that data is gone forever. Store important documents on a central, church-owned location to protect your resources.

#2: To BYOC or not to BYOC?

Will you require employees to “bring your own…

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VacationThe role of pastor is extremely stressful. In effect he/she is never off duty. This long-term stress takes a toll emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Churches that want to keep their pastor for many years must provide him/her with a season of rest. I recommend that all full-time pastors and staff receive a three-month paid sabbatical every six or seven years.

The Battle Wounded …

Consider the following statistics:

  • 23% of pastors have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
  • 25% of pastors don’t know where to turn when they have a family or personal issue.
  • 45% of pastors say that they have experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence.
  • 56% of pastors’ spouses say that they have no close friends.
  • 70% don’t have any close friends.
  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  • 80% say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.

Time for…

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Extreme SportWhere do you find enough money to start a church during a global recession? Starting a church in good economic times is daunting enough, but starting one now borders on insanity. Insanity or not, church planting has never been a sport for the faint-hearted. In fact, I have always called it the extreme sport of ministry.

But raising money for a church plant may be THE most extreme part of this extreme sport because it takes vision – plain and simple – and a clear way to communicate that vision. Josh Husmann, Lead Pastor of a new church plant called Mercy Road in Indianapolis, raised more money in one day than the average church planter does in a year. How? He clearly communicated his vision at the recent Next Nuts & Bolts Church Planting conference in Ocala, Florida. And left with a $20,000 check.

All conference attendees had the opportunity to enter their Church Master Plans and compete through a series of interviews with church planting experts. In difficult financial times, Josh brought the key elements that unlock finances for a successful church plant.

This equation determines a church plant’s funding capacity:

(Vision +…

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Boba Fett Keeps Me On TrackTime management. Of all the people I know who ever focus on this concept, only a small handful are confident that they’re doing it well. Most of us feel out of control. We feel that our specialty is time mis-management. Why is this so?

I believe it’s because we fail to see the bigger picture. Time management isn’t enough. It’s one small piece. Typically, when we think about managing time, we’re visualizing our to-do list, as if everything on it occupies an equal priority in our lives. When we can’t get it all done, we assume we’ve managed our time poorly.

The problem is, not everything we think we should be doing should actually be done. Some things should actually go undone on purpose. But that’s not the primary reason we can’t manage our time well. The biggest reason we struggle here is that we keep thinking of time in a merely logical way. We see every hour as equal in value to all the rest and there are never enough of them in a week.

There are actually at least four dimensions to managing time well, and we need to understand all…

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Tintern-Abbey-Inside

Church buildings can be a major barrier to exponential growth. Massive building programs are often a waste of money. History has proven over and over that future generations never fill the cavernous temples of previous generations. For instance, every time Spurgeon’s Tabernacle was rebuilt (three times) it was downsized. The list of empty great cathedrals would be quite long. God wants to do something new in each generation. He blesses anointed people, not buildings.

We also need to remember that the period of fastest growth for Christianity was during the first 300 years – when there were no church buildings at all. And today most of the rapidly exploding church-planting movements around the world are multiplying without having physical church buildings. They’ve learned to spread out!

Buildings should be tools for ministry, not monuments. I’ve said repeatedly to our congregation that Saddleback will never build a building that could not be torn down if it prevented us from reaching more people. Churches should focus on building people, not building buildings! (Tweet that!) That’s what being purpose-driven is all about. It’s a people-building process. Build your people before your steeple.

One of the goals we set at Saddleback…

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church_risks_cover_reduced_layers1Risk.  It’s probably not the most fun topic to discuss – no one likes to think about the bad things that could happen to your church.  However, we’ve all heard of churches who’ve had horrible things occur within their congregations.  Natural disasters, financial mismanagement, abuse, or a PR fiasco can derail the ministry God has entrusted to you within a very short period of time.  In light of those facts, it’s simply using wisdom to carefully consider what could go wrong so you can take appropriate actions now to prevent those risks or at least lessen their impact.

This is a topic I’m very passionate about because so many of these risks are preventable.  These events can seriously hurt the people we’re trying to serve and can erode the trust you’ve so diligently tried to earn.  Thankfully, the folks over at Church Community Builder think this is an important topic as well.  We’ve co-authored a new eBook aptly titled, “Are You Putting Your Church At Risk? 10 Potential Threats That Can Derail Your Ministry.”

This eBook is a free resource and is the first in a new series from CCB for Executive…

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Fact: Some congregations chew up pastors and spit them out every 2-3 years. I don’t have a Barna Study or Pew Research Poll to verify that assertion. But I don’t think verification is necessary. We’ve all seen the tragedy of “Monster Churches.”

What leads me to believe it is the church’s fault? Before I get to that, let me admit that it isn’t always the churches fault. I know many men who are just not effective pastors –no matter their congregational context. (That’s a topic for a future blog post entitled “Monster Pastors”).

Having said that, there are plenty of cases where the church undoubtedly has a problem. That is particularly evident in cases where:

  • The problem occurs over and over for a long period of time with a multitude of pastors. In these cases, the only common denominator is the congregation.
  • Pastors leave the church to find warm welcome and fruitful, long-term ministry in another congregation. When this happens, the change in church makes all the difference. The pastor remains the same.
  • The congregation denies that any problem exists at all. Pride is a powerful deceiver.

Once again, I admit that a church may have experienced all three…

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